Our broccoli pasta recipe offers an effortless way to enjoy this veggie. The simple method and flavorful ingredient combination bring out all the natural goodness this green has to offer.
Despite its false reputation of being bland and difficult to eat, broccoli can become incredibly tasty when properly made. Its layers of sweet and grassy flavors are wonderfully enhanced, while the crisp-tender texture combination of well-prepared florets makes every bite an exciting experience.
Knowing this, we decided to cook it with some shell pasta and stir it in a deliciously creamy sauce. The result is a scrumptious dish of pasta that makes eating veggies a whole lot more fun and enjoyable.
Is Broccoli Pasta Healthy?
This pasta uses broccoli as the main ingredient, which is packed with a lot of great nutrients. It’s a rich source of vitamin C, which supports the immune system and may help to prevent certain cancers as well as heart disease.
This cruciferous vegetable also comes with potential heart-health benefits thanks to its decent amounts of dietary fiber and potassium. Additionally, fiber is known for helping to maintain a healthy digestive system and aid in weight loss because it keeps the body feeling full longer.
When creating this recipe, we were mindful of not only the ingredients but also their amounts and how they were cooked. The broccoli requires some sautéing, but we managed to limit the oil usage to just 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Meanwhile, the butter, dairy, and salt are also measured to follow our guidelines so there are only 4 g saturated fat and 230 mg sodium in a 184-calorie serving.
Ingredients You'll Need
Wanting to retain the broccoli’s natural flavors, we decided to pair it with mild and sweet ingredients. Seasonings are kept to a minimum while the herbs do a great job at giving an added flavor kick and fresh aroma.
This veggie infuses the pasta with its signature herbaceous and earthy taste, accompanied by a subtle grassy undertone. Its crunchy texture also contrasts with the pasta’s tenderness, making the dish a lot more exciting to eat.
When picking it out, choose vibrant-colored heads with tightly-closed florets and no yellow or brown spots. It should smell fresh with a slight vegetal scent. The stems and stalks should be firm and not overly dried out.
You can go with any of your favorite pasta. We recommend small varieties like macaroni, farfalle, penne, etc., so that they’re consistent with the florets’ size. We went with conchiglie, more commonly known as shell pasta.
We cooked the pasta and broccoli in chicken broth to add a hint of savory flavor that enriches the entire dish. You can use your own homemade broth or a store-bought one for convenience.
Heavy cream, milk, and cheddar cheese are used to thicken the sauce’s texture and lay a creamy and sweet flavor base to the dish. If you’re lactose-intolerant, replace these with your preferred non-dairy variety, like plant cream, nut milk, and vegan cheese.
Onion powder, salt, and pepper are used to season this dish. It’s a simple but foolproof combination that adds just enough extra taste without overpowering any of the other ingredients.
We wanted to add a touch of bright earthiness to complement the broccoli, so we sprinkled in some oregano, parsley, and thyme for garnishing.
Add-ins and Substitutions
This broccoli pasta recipe is quite adaptable, so there’s more than one way for you to enjoy it. Here are some changes you can make if you fancy something a little different:
To give this dish a savory and smoky taste, sprinkle in some bacon bits or a few slices of sausage. If you have some shrimp or chicken around, you can also toss some in to turn this dish into a main.
This recipe uses cheddar for garnishing, but you can also replace it with your cheese of choice. Parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, grana padano, etc., are just a few great alternative options to choose from.
The seasonings of this dish are kept to a minimum, but you can always spice it up with a pinch of red pepper flakes or smoked paprika.
Add in some sun-dried tomatoes for a pop of color and flavor, or deepen the taste with roasted veggies. Other leafy greens like spinach or basil will also do the trick.
What to Serve With
Broccoli is surprisingly versatile, so you can serve it with various foods. Here are some suggestions for what you can pair it with to create a complete meal:
This broccoli-based pasta would go well with almost any fruit and veggie, such as olives, potatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, zucchini, and more. Feel free to toss in your favorite combination to make a quick and fresh salad to create a light meal with this dish as a main.
This dish’s tender flavors make it incredibly complementary to savory mains. Serve it as a side for dishes with roasted, grilled, or sautéed meat like chicken, beef, pork, etc. We recommend this Garlic Chicken for a restaurant-quality dinner filled with creamy goodness. For those who love a wholesome meal, this Instant Pot Brisket, Shrimp Marinade, or Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin might do the trick.
How to Store and Reheat
Since this dish contains dairy products, we recommend eating it within a day of making. If you have leftovers, put them in an airtight container, then store them in the fridge.
As for reheating, you can bake the leftovers in the oven at 350 °F for 15 to 20 minutes, quickly sauté in a pan, or reheat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Loosely cover the dish with foil if you use the oven or a napkin/cover if you use the microwave. The pasta might dry out, so you should add a little bit of water or oil to keep it moist.
Our broccoli pasta recipe pairs broccoli with shell pasta and enhances the veggie's natural flavors by cooking it with a deliciously creamy sauce. The outcome is a scrumptious dish of pasta that makes eating veggies a whole lot more fun and enjoyable.
Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta. Check the packaging to see how long the cooking time is; it usually takes around 5 - 7 minutes.
Slice the Broccoli: Trim off the large stem with a chef’s knife, then use a paring knife or your hand to separate the florets. You can leave the florets as they are or continue slicing them in half for thinner pieces.
Mince the Garlic: Crush the separated cloves with the middle part of the flat side of a chef’s knife. Peel and thinly slice the cloves, then place them under the knife’s edge.
Cook the Broccoli: Over medium heat, add 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 8 oz broccoli in a large pan or skillet. Sauté for around 3 minutes or until the broccoli florets are tender but still have bite, then remove.
Sauté the Butter, Garlic, Thyme, and Flour: Add 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tbsp garlic, and 1/2 tsp thyme, then quickly sauté for 30 seconds; add 1 tsp all-purpose flour, then continue sautéing.
Add the Seasonings, Cheese, and Liquids: Add 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth, 1 tbsp heavy cream, 1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp onion powder, and 1/2 oz cheddar cheese. Stir for around 1 minute until well-combined.
Add the Broccoli and Pasta: Add broccoli and 6 oz cooked shell pasta to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes.
Garnish and Serve: Garnish with 1/2 tsp parsley and 1/2 oz cheddar cheese. Enjoy hot.
How to Make Broccoli Pasta
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 184Calories from Fat 77
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 4g
Vitamin A 421IU
Vitamin C 52mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Natalie Butler is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health.